Paddy Power Takes Flack for Cheeky Ad Then Reveals Noble Purpose

Paddy Power has taken on the plight of the Russian Arctic polar bears but took a mischievous chance to lead punters astray through controversial advertising.

Paddy Power has come under criticism for releasing an image and short video featuring a Russian man spray painting a polar bear with the cross of St. George and the Paddy Power logo ahead of the upcoming FIFA World Cup. In support of the English football team, the stunt has been branded with labels such as “cruel”, “offensive” and “dreadful pun”. The video was released on LiveLeak on the 1st of June 2018. It features a Russian man walking through the snow towards the dozing creature and branding it with the symbol much loved by English football fans.

A polar bear and man touch noses.

Agee the polar bear and his owner Mark Dumas ©Paddy Power

Paddy Power’s risky move was also emblazoned across the UK Metro newspaper on Tuesday, 5th of June featuring the spray-painted bear with the words (and aforementioned dodgy pun) ‘England ‘til I Dye’ in capital letters. The bookmaker went to lengths to make sure its feat was seen, which proved to be unnecessary due to the amount of backlash on Twitter, making sure most of the nation was at least aware of the ad.

Animal cruelty campaigners were nonplussed, and many thought PP’s antics were insensitive and idiotic, especially since polar bears are a vulnerable species. That is, until Paddy Power itself released the whole story. The bookmaker gave a full behind the scenes look at the year-long process of making the video, proving that no bears had been harmed (or painted) for the clip. In fact, the stunt was meant to raise awareness of the Russian Arctic’s endangered polar bears.

It turns out that Paddy Power is funding Polar Bears International’s first Russian Arctic research project, with a five-figure donation. The Russian Arctic has the least-studied polar bear populations in the world, with two populations entirely within Russian borders and three more inhabiting shared territories all lacking data. This area is notoriously expensive to explore and logistically very difficult, so PP’s donation will be put to good and vital philanthropic use.

The cheeky bookmaker has made something of a reputation for itself with stunts in the past, you might remember its ‘Orange is the new Black?’ billboard in the Dublin City Centre back when Trump was still running against Hilary.

You can see the full-length behind-the-scenes video below.

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